February 3, 1919. “I’ve been thinking of how pleasant is a South Carolina winter compared to this damp cold.”

February 3, 1919 to Mother.

“I’ve been thinking of how pleasant is a South Carolina winter compared to this damp cold.” This presages his expectation for a leave, which has now expanded from one week to two weeks and he’s looking forward to traveling to the south of France. “I’m planning to play golf most of the time as am badly in need of outdoor exercise. …expect to spend most of my time very quietly at Cannes which is said not to be so full of Americans as the other places.” He’s anticipating the arrival for duty of Lieutenant Bert France “to get him broken in before I leave.” He explains the complexity of what he is doing and why there is so much specialization. Aside from the continual coming and going of personnel, he feels he is now short handed, “having just released one to the peace conference”:

Have another who spends most of his time on the road in the districts north of Paris settling up claims where our divisions were last summer. And then have another Captain and 2 Lieuts. who do nothing but automobile accident investigation and settlement of these claims.

He refers his mother to the January 4, 1919 issue of The Saturday Evening Post where Isaac F. Marcosson has written in detail about the Service of Supply, American Expeditionary Forces operations. Though Monty is not mentioned in the article, “I know personally a great many of the officers of whom he speaks.”

He describes a “quiet week socially compared with the way things have been going lately” which consisted of “one mighty good dance on Monday night at the home of the Baron de Leonino, the wife of said Baron being one of the Rothschilds[1], and their home is some little cottage to call home. Think it is the most beautiful place I have been in Paris, not excluding the villa Murat[2] where the President is staying. As usual at these dances, I found people of any number of nationalities, this time meeting a couple of Rumanian girls who surely could dance.”

[1] Two possibilities—both problematic—David Leonino (d 1911) marries Jeanne Sophie Henriette Rothschild and Emmanuel Leonino marries Bertha Juliette (d. 1906). In each case only one spouse is surviving in 1919. Monty’s identification leaves it unclear as to which Rothschild is intended though circumstantial information suggests it is the latter. Still need to locate the “little cottage” which may have been at 7, Rue Euler, since replaced by a commercial building.

[2] Hôtel du Prince Murat, 28 rue de Monceau, where Woodrow Wilson resided during his stay in Paris, 1918-1919.

 

Transcribed letter

[Letterhead: AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES]

Hq. District of Paris

A.P.O 702, A.E.F.

[no date; envelope February 3, 1919]

Dear Mother:-

Your letter of Jan. 5th reached me during the week and was much enjoyed as usual. Hope you and Mabel are both in Florida by this time as you both surely deserve a rest in a warmer climate. It has been very cold here for the past two weeks after a mild winter up to that time and I’ve been thinking of how pleasant is a South Carolina winter compared to this damp cold. Am hoping to get away myself in the next week or two for a leave down on the Riviera. A new travel order is just out giving 14 days instead of the seven as heretofore though the 14 includes time of travel. However, it takes only a day each way to get down to Cannes or Nice so that gives me twelve days there and I’m planning to play golf most of the time as am badly in need of outdoor exercise. Shall probably run over to Monte Carlo and Menton for a day or two but expect to spend most of my time very quietly at Cannes which is said not to be so full of Americans as the other places and also more quiet. When I went down before stayed at Nice and I only passed through Cannes but remember well how beautiful it was. Don’t know exactly what day I’ll get away as I’m waiting on Burton France to report for duty with me and to get him broken in before I leave. Have one Lieut. who is rather familiar with the work, having been with me nearly three months but just released one to the Peace Conference so it leaves me short for the moment. Have another who spends most of his time on the road in the districts north of Paris settling up claims where our divisions were last summer. And then have another Captain and 2 Lieuts. who do nothing but automobile accident investigation and settlement of these claims. By the way there is in the Sat. Evening Post of Jan. 4th a write up of the R.R. & C. in connection with several other services of the “S.O.S.” A.E.F. which you may find interesting[1] if you have not yet read it. As heretofore explained to you, my job is known as Section Officer for the District of Paris which places me on the staff of the Commanding General of this District but my nearest boss in R.R.&C. work is the Director of the Service at Hq. S.O.S. Have been much interested in this series of articles by Marcosson in the Post on the S.O.S. as I know personally a great many of the officers of whom he speaks.

Had a more or less of a quiet week socially compared with the way things have been going lately but went to one mighty good dance on Monday night at the home of the Baron de Leonino, the wife of said Baron being one of the Rothschilds[2], and their home is some little cottage to call home. Think it is the most beautiful place I have been in Paris, not excluding the villa Murat[3] where the President is staying. As usual at these dances, I found people of any number of nationalities, this time meeting a couple of Rumanian girls who surely could dance. Sorry John couldn’t take in some of these dances as he would get a lot of enjoyment out of them.

As to what Mr. Wilcox had to say about studying international law, I don’t know so much about the advisability of that but am keeping my eye open for opportunities though haven’t yet much idea what will develop. Think there is going to be much American business with France and I might find something desirable with an American concern over here or vice versa.

Sorry to hear your rheumatism continues to trouble you. Know the taking out of your tonsils will be very painful but, if it will do away with your rheumatism, think it would be well worth while.

Love to all,

[signed] Carl

[signed] Thomas C. Montgomery

Capt. A.S.C.

 

 

[1] He refers his mother to the January 4, 1919 issue of The Saturday Evening Post where Isaac F. Marcosson has written in detail about the Service of Supply, American Expeditionary Forces operations. Though Monty is not mentioned in the article, “I know personally a great many of the officers of whom he speaks.”

[2] Two possibilities—both problematic—David Leonino (d 1911) marries Jeanne Sophie Henriette Rothschild and Emmanuel Leonino marries Bertha Juliette (d. 1906). In each case only one spouse is surviving in 1919. Monty’s identification leaves it unclear as to which Rothschild is intended though circumstantial information suggests it is the latter. Still need to locate the “little cottage” which may have been at 7, Rue Euler, since replaced by a commercial building.

[3] Hôtel du Prince Murat, 28 rue de Monceau, where Woodrow Wilson resided during his stay in Paris, 1918-1919.

February 4, 1918. “I think they rather prefer going in the ‘Sortie’ and going out the ‘Entrée’”

He is done with the typewritten letter that he pecked out at work, leaves his office and goes home where he decides to “add a little” to his earlier thoughts. He pens an addendum in his sepia handwriting. It begins with a food odyssey, reporting that the “food at the Officers Training Camp was not as good as it might have been though we paid 168 francs—or about $30—a month.”

 

transcription

[about February 4, 1918]

Dear Mabel –

Since writing you this A.M. at my office have been looking over your last letter here at my room and will add a little – probably to be enclosed in the same envelope. As you know, Dick Johnson was with me for Xmas and he told me all about their trip over – they did not to come on the Vaterland as Horace thought from the Pace boy’s letter.

You want to know about food. The food at this Officers Training Camp was not as good as it might have been though we paid 168 francs or about $30 a month . The hardest thing for a good many of us to get used to was the “petit dejeuner” of “cafe au lait”, bread, butter and jam or “confiture” as it is known over here. After our heavier breakfasts at home, we didn’t come to it very gracefully. However, got so used to it the seven weeks I was at this camp that I’ve stuck to it most of the time since I’ve been here where I can get a heavier breakfast if desired. Occasionally, when feeling hungrier than usual in the morning I have an omelette instead of “confiture” but really feel awfully full after a breakfast of that kind. And, speaking of all omelettes, they surely know how to cook one in France – I’ve eaten more omelettes here than in my whole previous career. As a matter of fact the French live up to their re-reputation for good cooking all along the line. I’ve eaten often and enjoy things that I never touched at home, macaroni for instance.

I can’t give you a much of a description of camp life now, having been a city dweller for the last two months but shouldn’t wonder I’ll be ordered to where your stove will be useful before warm weather comes. And, having been here this length of time, most of my first impressions of this town have worn off – after a time you know one takes things as a matter of fact. There are some things though which I continue to notice. For instance in the subway these people have the most cheerful disregard for “Entree” and “Sortie” or Way in and Way out. I think they rather prefer going in the “Sortie” and coming out the “Entree”. Also on the sidewalks right and left mean nothing in their young lives. They walk where it pleases them to walk regardless of whether it’s on the right or left and block up the sidewalk looking at shop windows, or stopping for conversation or a kissing match. Osculation in public is the custom rather than [the reverse?]. Then crossing the street, they are just as likely as not to cross looking the wrong way or with head over the shoulder talking to some one on the pavement with the apparent calm belief that nothing will hit them. My work now requires my being out over the city nearly every day in a machine and my chauffeur has had some amazingly narrowest escapes from hitting some one. Hope he doesn’t. It’s a mystery to me that no more of them get run over, particularly with the way these French taxi drivers go – they’ve got something on New York taxi drivers in recklessness and that’s going some.

As to seeing fellows I knew at home, I’m running into some one often, particularly of my Harvard acquaintances. Besides Dick Johnson, have seen Aubrey Wheeler but have never run into Eugene Munro since leaving Marion. Got word of him through a Captain Simons from Charleston who had run into him in at some village. Bert France, from Spartanburg, was here with me last night as well as for a day about New Years. Never have seen Charlie Anderson but hope to run into him some of these times.

Glad to hear niece Olivia is still progressing so well – I can well imagine that she’s going to be a rather spirited young lady one of these days. Was rather reminded of Olivia the other night when having dinner at the apartment of a fellow officer who is so lucky as to have his wife with him and also a two month old daughter who was duly produced for my benefit.

Regarding cigars again, think, as before suggested, it will be better to send a box every 10 days as then, if one has lost, it doesn’t amount to so much.

Also continue to address everything to me at A.P.O. 702 (which means Army Post Office) until otherwise notified. Even if I am moved to another place, I’ll get mail quicker by having it come here and be forwarded than if there is no other address than A.E.F.

With love,

Carl

P.S. – Feb. 4 – 10 A.M. Found Mother’s letter of Dec. 26 on coming down this A.M. and glad you know more about what I’m doing – the pictures of pictures of Olivia were fine.

O.K.

Thomas C Montgomery,

2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.R.